Last week, on February 5th, marked what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 19th Birthday. If he was still with us, he may have been getting ready to start classes at the University of Miami (where he hoped to attend), or completing his application for a pilot’s license (aviation was his main passion). But, he is not with us and we, as a community, are left to mourn a life that might have been, while making sure young men like Trayvon Martin are not taken from us before their time.
If you watch the news you will no doubt see what has become of the man that killed Trayvon, George Zimmerman. His troubles continue and his post trial life is testament to what many of us believe to be his character. While he was found not guilty by the jury, many questions remain and it seems as though he will generate his own punishment by his erratic and dangerous life.
Yet, last week I only thought of Trayvon, how he could have been one of my sons, how he could have been any young black male walking the streets at night not knowing if he would make it home. Despite the progress we have made, there is still much work to be done in this nation to ensure that a boy like Trayvon is safe and cherished.
Reforming so-called stand your ground; laws is a logical place to start, but our battle is also one of consciousness raising so that a boy like Trayvon is not seen as a threat in any community. How is that done?
First, we must make sure we hold ourselves responsible for our actions and endeavor to live by our own elevated community standards. We must serve those less fortunate, mentor youth who are taking the wrong path and never compromise our dignity when faced with injustice.
Second, we must work with the community and police to make sure that their policies and behaviors line up with what is expected of them by the law- the recent scandals at the LA Sheriff’s Department prove we have a long way to go on that ground.
Lastly, we must always remember Trayvon, celebrate and mourn on his birthday and keep his memory alive for years to come. It is too easy to forget, too easy to go on living and block out the injustices that happen everyday in this nation, too easy to think our leaders will solve these problems. They won’t without our consistent and disciplined pressure. As it is in politics and life, the decisive, morally strong and determined will carry the day.
Let us go forward together and thank Trayvon for reminding us of our responsibilities and wish him an appropriate Happy Birthday--long live his memory.